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Tags: andrew mccarthy | oath keepers | jan.6 | trump

Andrew McCarthy: Oath Keepers Not Guilty of 'Sedition'

Andrew McCarthy: Oath Keepers Not Guilty of 'Sedition'
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers, center, speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017. (Susan Walsh/AP)

By    |   Saturday, 15 January 2022 01:05 PM

The Justice Department has been "goaded into" charging members of the Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy for their alleged role in the Jan. 6 events at the U.S. Capitol, but that charge is the wrong one because the defendants were acting in a belief that they were protecting the country, not waging war against it, National Review contributing editor Andrew McCarthy argued Saturday. 

"Two elements are indispensable to the crime of seditious conspiracy," McCarthy wrote in an opinion piece published Saturday. "First, there must be an agreement to use force, as opposed to protesting peacefully — even if rambunctiously. Second is the concept of levying war against the United States or opposing the lawful authority of the United States."

Both elements will pose "insuperable challenges" to the case, he added. 

Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers militia, and 10 other people were charged Thursday with seditious conspiracy, which is defined as meaning "to overthrow, put down the government."

But, McCarthy wrote that the Oath Keepers were actually trying to uphold the Constitution, based on what they were hearing from then-President Donald Trump about the election. 

McCarthy explained the charge was first codified by Congress during the Civil War to target Confederate sympathizers in the Northern States, and since then there have been only a few prosecutions on those charges. 

"Nearly 30 years ago, I prosecuted the last major, successful case of this kind," he writes, explaining at that time, jihadists who wanted to stage attacks on Americans were under trial. "Thankfully, people in the United States do not often try to make war on their fellow Americans, violently overthrow the government, or otherwise forcibly attack facilities and officials specifically because they are part of the government."

The events of Jan. 6 are "complicated" said McCarthy, but they involve protesters who believed they were saving the country by committing serious crimes, not waging war, and they believed they were acting at the "behest," or commend or request, of Trump. 

He added that the Justice Department's charges against the Oath Keepers tell just "half a story" and that to prove they were conspiring to stop the transfer of the presidency, that would mean acknowledging that President Joe Biden had won. 

But the Oath Keepers alleged actions took place after they were "convinced, through weeks of misrepresentations — including baseless claims of foreign interference, voting-machine manipulation, and counterfeit-ballot stuffing — that the election had been stolen, and that only by zealously resisting that outcome could the country be saved," said McCarthy. 

"The person singularly responsible for what happened was Donald Trump," he said, but Trump emphasized the use of peaceful protest "enough times that he could never be convicted of seditious conspiracy — it could never be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he conspired with others to use force."

And as a result, Trump's supporters used force but never intended to levy war against the United States. 

"They made the mistake of believing him…and of going way too far based on that belief," said McCarthy. "They thought they were defending the country, the Constitution, and the government. Because the president told them so."

But he stressed that he does not mean by his words that the Oath Keepers shouldn't be prosecuted, but that seditious conspiracy is the wrong charge. 

"For political reasons, Democrats and Trump opponents want to brand January 6 as sedition, since sedition is the closest thing to insurrection," said McCarthy. "But it is not good law enforcement to infuse a prosecution with complications that needlessly risk acquittal, especially when more fitting charges would provide for the lengthy sentences that the most culpable rioters richly deserve."

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The Justice Department has been "goaded into" charging members of the Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy for their alleged role in the Jan. 6 events at the U.S. Capitol, but that charge is the wrong one because the defendants were acting in a belief that they were...
andrew mccarthy, oath keepers, jan.6, trump
605
2022-05-15
Saturday, 15 January 2022 01:05 PM
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